What's New at Lightscapes Nature Photography
December 5, 2023
This Wasn't Supposed to Happen
At some point in the past--at least four years ago--more than a year went by between updates on this page, and upon completing the long-delayed update I wrote something to the effect that "this won't happen again." Well, in a nutshell, it happened again. 16 1/2 months have gone by since the last update, in mid-July of 2022. In my defense, a few (ha) things happened in the interim. The most consequential of those were a relocation--from the Houston area to the Wilmington, Delaware area--and the death of my image-processing computer's motherboard.
Barely two weeks after I updated this website on July 17, 2022, I received news that would lead to what turned out be an incredibly difficult relocation (it took about nine months to complete). I'm being deliberately vague, partly because I don't want to go through the details again (living through them in real time was painful enough), and partly because I know no one wants to hear them. In the midst of the long relocation--in late October, 2022, to be specific--my computer's motherboard failed, and because of everything else that was going on during the aforementioned time frame, I didn't have the opportunity to replace the 11 year-old system until August, 2023. As a result, I was unable to process any images until late last summer. That's not quite as bad as it sounds because--again, due to the relocation and all of its glory--I had almost no opportunity to engage in any photography for nearly a year.
So that's most of the explanation for the delay.
The Rest of the Relevant Story
As part of the July, 2022 update, I mentioned that I was looking into a trip to northern Minnesota during the fall of that year. That trip actually took place. It was during the processing of those files that the old computer bit the dust, as a matter of fact. I had managed to process something like 1/3 of the images from that trip to Minnesota (and a day in Wisconsin, as it turned out) before the computer failure, but the rest of the files sat, inert, on a hard drive for about 10 months. The images from that trip have been fully processed at this point and can be viewed in a new Minnesota gallery. The Wisconsin images from that trip can be found in the preexisting Wisconsin gallery.
It wasn't until the fall of this year that any additional photo trips ensued, but there ended up being two of them in 2023. In late September, I made my third visit to the Canadian Rockies. This trip was only eight days (the previous two were each two weeks in length), and concentrated on Jasper National Park and David Thompson Country. The photography from that trip can be found in the Canadian Rockies gallery.
And in early November, I spent a week at Caddo Lake, which straddles the Louisiana-Texas state line, north of Shreveport and south of Texarkana. That was a truly unique experience, not only because of the singular subject matter (one of the most photogenic bald cypress swamps in existence), but also due to the need to do the vast majority of photographing from watercraft--either a pontoon boat or a kayak. The images from that trip can be found in the new Caddo Lake gallery, as well as in galleries dedicated to Texas and Louisiana.
I also found a tiny bit of time to make a couple of forays with the camera in Delaware in late October, when the foliage was at peak. Those images can be viewed in the new Delaware gallery. And finally, I made a brief stop at Village Creek State Park in eastern Arkansas during the drive down to Caddo Lake. Those images can be found in the Arkansas gallery.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that all of the new material described above can be most easily found--for the time being--in the catch-all What's New gallery.
However you choose to view these images, the new material should keep you busy. This is the largest single update to this website since it was first created, years and years ago.
I don't know. No, really! A few locations have been discussed for 2024, but nothing is far enough along to be taken completely seriously at this point. Regardless, the next site update should be forthcoming in less time than the last one. [Knock on wood.]
July 17, 2022
Smokies Images Posted
In the second half of April I spent about a week photographing in the Smokies. I'd photographed in the region five times previously, but this was my first visit in eight years. The conditions were, overall, less than optimal. It wasn't a great dogwood bloom in the Smokies this spring and, during my time there, I experienced blue sky days all but one morning and roughly 2/3 of the final day. Still, I did my best to optimize my time when I was on the ground and I had the great fortune to spend a significant amount of time photographing with Nye Simmons. I've had occasional online and phone communication with Nye for about two decades, but this was the first time we'd met in person. I've been an admirer of Nye's photography since the very first time I experienced it, back in the early 2000s. And because Nye knows the Smokies region like no one else (he's the author of The Greater Smoky Mountains Photographer's Guide--a must-have resource for anyone planning a trip to the area), I was thrilled when he offered to show me around. I'm not a Smokies newbie--as I said, I'd photographed there five times previously--but Nye has forgotten more about the area than I'll ever know and, sure enough, we photographed in places, at specific times, that I never would have visited on my own.
Images from the trip can be viewed from either their temporary home in the What's New gallery or their permanent spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park gallery or the newly organized and posted Tennessee and North Carolina galleries. Please have a look.
Minor Site Reorganization
I hinted at this above, but in addition to new galleries for Tennessee and North Carolina a new gallery for South Carolina, currently containing some images from the Sandhills region of the state, has also been created. The old combined Piedmont/Sandhills gallery has been removed, with all of the images relocated to the North Carolina and South Carolina galleries as appropriate.
Uncertain at the moment, but I'm looking into the possibility of a trip this coming autumn to Minnesota's Lake Superior North Shore and northern Wisconsin. Stay tuned.
March 28, 2022
Vermillion Cliffs (including The Wave) and Death Valley Images Posted
The trip to Vermillion Cliffs and Death Valley, mentioned in the December update, did come to pass, though it was in early February rather than late January as originally anticipated. Some travel difficulties were overcome, but a couple of brutally cold nights camping at Vermillion Cliffs (I ended up sleeping in the unheated vehicle, which surely was better than being out in the elements directly, but still cold enough for bottles of water to freeze solid) weren't much fun. How cold did it get outside? 12 degrees (F) is the best guess. It was considerably warmer in Death Valley. Most importantly, the photography in both locations was outstanding. Abstracts were the predominant theme in both places, but with very different subject matter. Vermillion Cliffs radiated with color; Death Valley was as graphic a place as I've ever photographed and screamed black & white. Overall, it was a tremendous experience. The Vermillion Cliffs part of the trip, which came first, included a successful entry in the Coyote Buttes North walk-in permit lottery, which meant that I fulfilled a long-time desire to see and photograph The Wave...though I found a great deal of other visual stimulus to photograph in Coyote Buttes North. A day was also spent in the permit-restricted Coyote Buttes South tract at Vermillion Cliffs, specifically the Cottonwood Cove section.
Images from the trip can be viewed from either their temporary home in the What's New gallery or their permanent spots in the Arizona (Vermillion Cliffs) and California (Death Valley) gallery portals. The new material from Arizona lies in the Coyote Buttes North and Coyote Buttes South sub-galleries. The Death Valley images are in seven different sub-galleries, all clearly labeled (i.e. including "Death Valley" in the description).
A planned day trip or two to photograph the bluebonnet bloom in Washington County Texas--that should happen this week (i.e. the very end of March, first day or two of April)--and then a likely trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina) during the spring bloom (i.e. the latter third or so of April). It's been nearly a decade since I've been to the Smokies and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to photograph there again.
December 2, 2021
Alaska Images Posted
So, the return trip to Alaska, alluded to in the June update (see below), did in fact happen. The trip consisted of parts of 17 days in the field, ranging from the Brooks Range in the far north to the Chugach area south of Anchorage and a number of spots in between, including Creamer's Field (Fairbanks), Denali National Park, the Denali Highway, the Richardson Highway and Hatcher Pass. It was, in short, a phenomenal trip. Conditions were, on balance, excellent; fall color was at its peak at nearly every stop; there were some decent wildlife opportunities and one excellent aurora borealis event; and there was only one day that was something close to a full-blown washout. I was joined on this trip by my friend, Ellen Kinsel, who, in addition to doing a better job planning than I could ever hope to do, was great company, as always. This may very well have been the best photo trip I've ever taken, and at this point, I've been on a decent number.
The images from the trip can, at the time of this writing, be viewed via two conduits. The Alaska gallery has been completely updated with all of the new material, which has been integrated with the images posted from the first trip, in 2018. This will be the permanent repository for the photographs from the trip. If you just want to see the photos from this trip, separated from the 2018 images, it's best to go through the What's New gallery portal. But either way works.
This remains uncertain, but I'm currently hoping to make a trip to Vermillion Cliffis National Monument in Arizona and Death Valley National Park in California in late January. It's not a done deal as I write this, but hopefully it will come about. Stay tuned.
June 21, 2021
Texas Bluebonnet Bloom, Arizona/Utah Spring Trip Images (and More!) Posted
First things first--the Coyote Buttes/Death Valley winter trip didn't happen because the pandemic was at its crescendo in this part of the world at the time. Hopefully that trip will happen next year. But, as spring rolled around and the public health situation in the U.S. improved dramatically, I was able to a fair amount of photography. First was a brief (as in a couple of hours) stop at Mississippi River State Park in Arkansas in early April, followed by multiple forays to photograph the bluebonnet bloom in Texas, first in Washington County (about an hour northeast of Houston) and then, for a couple of days, near Ennis (Ellis County), half an hour or so south of Dallas. And finally, the big pay off: a trip to the desert Southwest--northern Arizona and southern Utah, specifically, at the tail end of April through the end of the first week of May, which involved photography at numerous different spots, most of them in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park. These were all car trips and, on the way out west, I had the opportunity to do some spontaneous photography, very briefly, in the Texas panhandle and northeast New Mexico as well.
The easiest way to check out all the new material is to check out the What's New gallery, though the images can also be found in various places in the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Other Landscapes galleries as well. Please have a peek.
What's next on tap remains a bit up in the air at the moment. A return trip to Alaska, originally scheduled for late August of 2020, and postponed for obvious reasons, was rescheduled for late summer of this year (late August, early September). I remain hopeful--and increasingly optimistic--that it will happen, but that's not yet certain. As usual, stay tuned.
November 10, 2020
Upper Peninsula of Michigan Images Posted
In early October I spent about a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (plus part of one day in northern Wisconsin) photographing the fall color in one of the most underappreciated locations to do so in North America, if not the world. There are some people in the Upper Midwest who are in on the splendor of the UP, as the Upper Peninsula is known colloquially, but that represents the exception, not the rule. It was the sixth time since 2002 that I've spent a week in the UP in autumn and in many ways, it was the most challenging of the half-dozen experiences. I had already canceled plans to return to Alaska late this past summer due to the SARS CoV-2 pandemic and I had to think long and hard about whether it was possible to make this fall trip safely. I ultimately concluded, obviously, that it was, but this decision did not come easily. For more on the decision making process and other trip planning considerations, I direct you to a recent blog post on that subject.
The photography part of the trip went well; I spent much time covering familiar locations but visited new spots as well. Images from the trip can be found in the Michigan and Wisconsin galleries, as well as the What's New gallery. Please have a look.
Plans are in place for a trip to Coyote Buttes (both North and South) and Death Valley National Park in late January/early February, virus circumstances permitting. Stay tuned.
April 6, 2020
Big Bend National Park Images Posted
In early February, shortly before the impact of the novel coronavirus began to be felt in the continental United States, I made a relatively brief trip to Big Bend National Park in west Texas. I've wanted to visit Big Bend ever since I became aware of its existence more than 30 years ago, but due to its remoteness I never had the opportunity. But, with a base now established in the Houston area I made the approximately 10-hour one-way drive and spent a few days exploring and photographing the park. It didn't disappoint and I hope, at some point, to be able to visit again--hopefully in early spring, when the wildflower bloom is taking place. The park has a surprising variety of different ecosystems within its Chihuahuan Desert environ, and I had the opportunity to have a look at many of them, from the Chisos Mountain Basin to the Rio Grande Valley and its associated canyons to Dagger Flat and the Grapevine Hills area to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
The fruits of February's trip--my first photographic experience anywhere in Texas--are now visible in the newly created Texas Gallery, which presently houses 15 sub-galleries of categorized Big Bend images. The images are also presently accessible from the What's New Gallery portal.
That remains to be seen. With the coronavirus wreaking havoc throughout the world at the time of this writing, planing of future travel is on indefinite hold. Hopefully the picture will be clearer--and much safer--a few months down the road.
Note: A bit of website housekeeping required me to move all the "What's New" material prior to the year 2020 to a new page. All of the previous material, going back to 2007 and ending in 2019 can be found here.